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        General Assembly
8 January 2009


Ninth special session

Written statement* submitted by Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, Adalah - The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, Al-Haq and The Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA), non-governmental organizations in special consultative status

The Secretary-General has received the following written statement which is circulated in accordance with Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/31.

[7 January 2009]


Gross Human Rights Violations and War Crimes in the Occupied Gaza Strip1

For almost two weeks now Israel has carried out military operations in the occupied Gaza Strip from the air, sea and land, killing hundreds and injuring thousands of Palestinian civilians. Many of the causalities are women and children with entire families among the dead. Thus, grave breaches of international humanitarian law, including the Hague Regulations (1907) and the Geneva Conventions (1949) that amount to war crimes have been committed by Israel in the occupied Gaza Strip. These breaches include wilful killing and the extensive destruction of houses and other civilian property not justified by military necessity and have been carried out unlawfully and wantonly.

In addition to the above, the already dire humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip is deteriorating further. It is becoming increasingly difficult for humanitarian relief personnel to reach and evacuate casualties and distribute aid. Almost a million and half a million Gazans, most of whom have been refugees since 1948, continue to remain without food, water or electricity, as they have since Israel imposed its current siege, which was tightened in June 2007 following Hamas take-over of the Gaza Strip. Furthermore, due to the widespread destruction of civilian infrastructure, including electricity, water, communication services and roads, hospitals are unable to provide adequate care to the high number of casualties. These actions amount to the collective punishment of the entire population of Gaza and endanger the very survival of civilians.

Moreover, Israel’s indiscriminate military attacks have led to unprecedented forcible mass displacement, with tens of thousands of civilians fleeing their homes in search of adequate and secure shelters. Yet, it is evident that even UN installations in the occupied Gaza Strip cannot provide safety and security for those civilians, especially after UNRWA shelters were deliberately shelled by Israel military forces on 5 and 6 January 2009, an act that resulted in the deaths and injury of more than a hundred innocent civilians.

Without the immediate intervention of the international community, the vulnerable Palestinian civilian population in the occupied Gaza Strip will inevitably continue to suffer heavy losses.

Despite the gravity of the situation, the Security Council is failing to fulfil its role and take prompt and concrete steps to end the suffering of civilians in the Gaza Strip.

Thus, while reiterating General Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto’s statement that “the time has come to take firm action if the UN does not want to be rightly accused of complicity by omission”, we respectfully call upon the Human Rights Council to:

1Addameer Prisoners Support and Human Rights Association, Ad-Dameer Association for Human Rights, Al Mezan Center, The Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA), The Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations’ Network (PNGO), also share the views expressed in this statement.


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